Frontal Brain Asymmetry and the Trajectory of Shyness Across the Early School Years
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Although resting right frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry has been linked to avoidance and withdrawal-related behaviors such as shyness in previous cross-sectional studies, relatively little research has examined the influence of frontal brain electrical activity on the development of shyness in children using a prospective, longitudinal study design. Here, we tested whether resting frontal EEG asymmetry predicted the trajectory of children's shyness across five assessments. Children were enrolled in the study during the summer prior to grade 1 (N = 37; Mage = 6.39 years, S.D. = 0.15 years), at which time resting frontal EEG activity and maternal report of children's shyness were collected. Mothers then reported on their child's shyness over another four follow-up assessments, spanning 2 years (winter of grade 1, summer prior to grade 2 entry, winter of grade 2, and summer prior to grade 3). Growth curve analysis revealed that children displaying greater relative right frontal EEG activity had lower levels of shyness relative to children exhibiting greater relative left frontal EEG activity at study enrollment (i.e., age 6), but displayed statistically significant linear increases in shyness across time, with the highest levels of shyness by the summer prior to grade 3 (i.e., age 8). There was, however, no relation between left frontal EEG asymmetry and change in shyness across time. These preliminary findings suggest that right frontal EEG asymmetry may reflect a biological diathesis for the growth of shyness during the early school years.
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